Three sailors were rescued on Sunday after a joint operation by the Coast Guard and two good Samaritans on commercial vessels who retrieved the crew of the 42-ft sailing vessel Coco Haz III. The sailboat, a Japanese-flagged vessel, had been dismasted approximately four days earlier and some 600 miles west-southwest of the Hawaiian Islands, according to a Coast Guard press release.
“The three crew [including two US nationals and one Japanese citizen] on the sailing vessel are reportedly in good condition, with one possible concussion after further assessment by a flight surgeon, and en route to Honolulu aboard the motor vessel Kalamazoo,” the release said. “They are expected to arrive later in the week.”
“On December 23, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Honolulu watchstanders received notification via a third party reporting source of an unreported sailing vessel transiting from Osaka, Japan, to Waikiki, Oahu, with three people aboard,” the Coast Guard said. “The last known position of the boat at the time plotted approximately 805 miles northwest of Oahu.”
JRCC Honolulu started making callouts and released a Safety NET message to all commercial traffic in the area. With help from the Japanese Coast Guard, JRCC eventually contacted the owner of Coco Haz III on Christmas Day, when it was discovered that the sailboat had dismasted. It was reported by the Coast Guard that “the crew had 500 gallons of fuel, two weeks of food, one month of water onboard, and an orange life raft aboard as of December 19.” .
Both the Coast Guard and the US Navy began aerial searches for the Coco Haz III over the next several days. “The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak also responded from Honolulu, but shortly after reaching the search area, they turned back due to a low fuel state,” the Coast Guard said.
“We appreciate the support of the good Samaritans aboard the Kalamazoo who made this rescue possible,” Lt. Diane French, a JRCC Honolulu officer, was quoted as saying. “This was a difficult case given the remote area of the search and a lack of communications with the crew. We appreciate the support of the Navy Poseidon air crews who were more than willing to fly and assist us during the holiday season. While the sailing vessel crew had supplies for the voyage, they did not have an electronic position-indicating radio beacon. Such a device would have provided their location rapidly and accurately, significantly shortening the search. We recommend anyone undertaking voyages offshore take an EPIRB.”
As long as we keep sailing we know we’ll continue to do dumb things. It’s all part of the adventure and challenge. We thought we’d share a few more of the stories we collected back in 2002. Coming soon, we’ll share a few that readers have sent in response to these stories.
An Imminent Emergency
Once I was sailing in the Singlehanded Guadelupe Island Race, and somewhere south of Catalina became very concerned about a flashing strobe light behind me. I called the Coasties to inform them of this emergency. After a lengthy discussion, we (they) determined it was a… lighthouse. Ouch!
— Tim Schaff
(former Cabo Marina harbormaster)
Casual Water, Hunter 33
Husband of the Year
This tale went around Sausalito Yacht Harbor’s Pier D in the early ’90s, told by neighbors who swore they witnessed it while hanging out on the Hospital (Ayala) Cove moorings one balmy fall weekend: A man and hIs wife motored into the cove in some kind of common fiberglass sloop, a Felony 35, say, and headed for an empty mooring buoy. As they approached the buoy, the wife went forward with the boat hook, but the guy never slowed the boat. He steamed close by the mooring at about 5 knots, but the woman still managed to snag it. The boat hook was promptly yanked out of her hands. The man turned the air blue, called his wife all sorts of names, and circled around for another go at it.
This time, he had her lie down on the side deck amidships ready to grab the boathook and said, “Whatever you do, don’t let go!” AgaIn, he never slowed the boat. Nonetheless. she managed to grab the boathook, which was still hooked in the mooring ball. She didn’t let go. She was spun around, then slid off the deck under the lifelines and bellyflopped into the water. Her husband motored on without a word. He steamed out of the cove and vanished around the point, leaving his wife on the mooring. Witnesses had to dinghy over and fetch her, loan her dry clothes and whatever else she needed, and deliver her to the ferry to Tiburon.
— Brooks Townes
formerly of Sausalito
Brooks now lives in the Seattle area and contributed a story to our January issue about the Sausalito Indian Navy.
Testing the Right of Way
Years ago, while living in the British Virgin Islands, I decided that I would never learn to be a good sailor unless I took charge of our boat without my husband’s help. So while he was away on a trip I invited several other girl-sailors to help me race our 25-ft sloop in Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta. Turned out the other girls knew even less about sailing than I did, but we eventually made it to the starting line.
Trouble was, our class was long gone and we found ourselves in a port-starboard conflict with a massive Baltic Trader as we approached the line. “We’re definitely on starboard lack,” said one of the girls who had taken the helm. ”I’m sure we have right of way.” Finally realizing that the square-rigger wasn’t about to alter course, I grabbed the tiller and tried to tack away but our rigging had already become tangled In the huge ship’s bowsprit. I’m sure none of us will ever forget the befuddled looks on the faces of the Trader’s crew or the lesson we learned that day about ‘the law of tonnage’.
— Julie Turpin, Aphrodite, Ranger 33
Julie Turpin has since sailed thousands of miles and successfully crossed the Pacific in the Pacific Puddle Jump with her husband, Latitude 38’s long-time editor Andy Turpin, aboard their Cross 40 trimaran, Little Wing. They had a more recent adventure with a starter motor in Fakarava which they relayed in the current, January issue.
Do you have a unique experience you’d like to share with our readers? Send your latest misadventure here.
Now hiring in Sausalito: Oceanic Yacht Sales has an opening for an experienced sailboat/powerboat salesperson.
Master Mariners New Year’s Day ‘Race’
While several Master Mariners boats were sailing to and from Clipper Cove, several others sailed in to form raft-ups. Others were already anchored there, having spent the night to watch San Francisco’s New Year’s Eve fireworks. The day started out sunny but clouds gathered, keeping the temps cool and creating a bit of a wind chill factor. A mild breeze made sailing a pleasure.
Clipper Cove Raft-Ups
Clipper Cove lies in the shelter of the tallish Yerba Buena Island and the flat Treasure Island attached to it. Around 3 p.m., the breeze piped up with gusts that sent the largest of the raft-ups dragging anchor toward Treasure Island Sailing Center. Though replete with crab chowder and many other delicacies, the sailors leapt into action and efficiently broke the raft with no unfortunate consequences. The boats then headed for their respective ports in Alameda, Oakland, Richmond and Sausalito.
Other sailing activities on Wednesday included Treasure Island YC’s and Alameda sailors’ circumnavigation of their respective islands. We’ll have some ‘Lookin’ Good’ photos from New Year’s Day sails next week. We also invite readers to send us their own New Year’s sailing photos.